Published on July 14, 2007
The chairman of the sub-panel handling the probe said yesterday there was "nothing new" in evidence submitted to it by Nathanon this week.
Prasert Boonsri said Nathanon's statement contained only information already before the panel.
"It benefits only Khunying Nathanon," Prasert said. Nathanon is fighting suggestions she should be held partly responsible for the deal to purchase fire vehicles at an inflated price. Former member of parliament Charnchai Issarasenarak is arguing she should bear some responsibility.
The Prasert sub-panel was recently ordered to review whether Nathanon should be indicted. Earlier it concluded the deal cost the country Bt1.9 billion too much.
It said former interior minister Bhokin Bhalakula, his deputy Pracha Maleenont, ministry assistant secretary Somsak Khun-ngern, former Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej and Police Maj-General Atilak Tanchukiat corruptly prepared the multi-billion-baht deal.
Atilak heads the Bangkok Fire and Rescue Department - a unit of the BMA. The Interior Ministry oversees the BMA.
Meanwhile, Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin urged the AEC to "fully and fairly review the case."
"Some people have tried to politicise the case," he said.
Because the AEC sub-panel has been instructed to look into issues relating to a letter of credit and a counter-trade agreement, Apirak is seen as another target. He opened the letter of credit, which put the purchase contract for the deal into full effect.
"The letter of credit had to be opened because the contracts have already taken effect," Apirak said in his defence. Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva insisted that Apirak was legally obliged to open the letter of credit. Apirak is a deputy leader of the Democrat Party.
Abhisit pointed out no one had been able to cancel the deal, even though it was concluded the fire vehicles were sold at inflated prices.
The deal was based on an agreement of understanding signed by then interior-minister Bhokin and the Austrian ambassador to Thailand to buy fire engines, fire boats and other fire-fighting equipment for the department.